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How to Connect With Your Audience



By Angela Perelli


Would you be surprised to know that "You are not alone" is the subject line with the highest open rate? According to Copyblogger, "I don't want to be alone is a compelling, universally recognized statement. The need to belong -- to know that others are going through the same life experiences -- is primal."

For morning shows, this is not news, but it is a good reminder. We know that what separates local radio from satellite/Pandora/iPods is the ability for community and connection.

How can you make people feel less alone?

Step 1: Know yourself and your audience.
Here's what the article suggests:  "To discover the core desires of your audience -- think about what keeps you up at night. What makes you worried, happy, sad, disgusted, afraid, surprised, or alone? If you're a part of your market, what's true for you is likely true for them."

Often as you get more successful in your radio career, you become less connected to the real lives and problems of your audience. If you're not in the demo or psychographic of your audience, ask your spouse, friends, coworkers. Ask anyone you know that resembles your audience.

At last year's Morning Show Boot Camp, Dennis Clark, Ryan Seacrest's executive producer, described the psychographic of the KIIS listener. It went something like this: "26-year-old Hispanic woman with a baby, baby-daddy drama, money stress; she has two jobs; is aspiring for a better life (maybe going to school at night); hangs out with one friend with lots of drama; drives a car that is in desperate need of repair; has a close relationship with her family." Look at how much more in focus that person is that just a female 18-34.

Step 2: Reflect your audience back to them
Once you've figured out what keeps them (and you) up at night, find ways to acknowledge those thoughts and feelings throughout your show.

We often recommend using the "you" technique to reflect back the audience's hopes, dreams, fears, etc. "If you're like me..." is just one example of language that establishes a connection. Stand-up comedians use "you" questions as a way to connect. "Don't you hate it when...? "or " Did you ever notice...?"

News and entertainment stories can start with a hook that reflects an emotion (e.g. "Just when you thought Kim Kardashian couldn't get any more over-exposed..." or "Worried about what your kids are eating in their school lunches? Well this new report isn't going to make you feel any better...")

Even quick and easy contest liners can hook listeners in by tapping into their emotional needs (e.g. "Beat your Monday blues with our all request lunch" is more memorable than "Join WXYZ today at noon for another all-request lunch.")

Step 3: Reveal and you shall be rewarded
Personal stories and segments like, "Don't act like you never...," "Does that make me crazy?" and "Am I normal?" where show players and listeners reveal funny personality quirks, are the type of content that plays to our emotional need to belong. And they work on two levels.

Say someone on the show admits to peeing in the shower. Anyone listening who does the same thing feels like they are not alone. AND, on another level, they feel a stronger connection to that player. The more raw your reveals, typically the deeper connection you forge with them. The best and most memorable air personalities are most often the ones that aren't afraid to reveal the dark underbellies of their personality.

Step 4: Reply
According to the article, "You are not alone" subject lines not only get opened like crazy, they also trigger higher than usual response rates.

You have to reply.

I get it. You're busy. Still, if you connect with someone on the air and they reach out to you, it does you and your efforts a disservice and a step backwards if you don't seal the deal with a quick, polite exchange.

If you're struggling with these concepts, you are not alone. (See how I did that?) I'd love to hear your issues, questions and comments on how you connect with your audience (unless it involves vodka...some secrets are meant to be kept, well, secret). Find me at or on Twitter @AngelaPerelli.

Angela Perelli is a SVP at the The Randy Lane Company ( She can be reached at

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